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Harry Kane brace too good for battling Villa

BRACE: Harry Kane celebrates

A TWO goal salvo by Harry Kane in the dying minutes ensured that Tottenham Hotspur started their Premier League season with victory. But the 3-1 victory over newly promoted Aston Villa was far from comfortable.

Villa had lead the match for more than an hour after taking a surprise lead through the burgeoning talent of John McGinn after nine minutes.

The goal was quintessential counter attacking football, a style to which home sides in the Premier League will become accustomed when the Midlanders come calling. But the composure that Scottish international McGinn showed in converting a probing Tyrone Mings pass caught the Spurs’ napping.

The home side pressed consistently for the entirety of the first half without success, Villa soaking up pressure with assuredness – particularly evident in the partnership at centre-half between Mings and Belgian debutante Bjorn Engels. Among the other new faces, Egyptian winger Trezueget and goalkeeper Tom Heaton also showed poise. The other new face on show, record signing Brazilian Wesley, was more subdued.
But the mood changed for home fans after 73 minutes when Tottenham’s new record signing at £53.8m, Tanguy Ndombele equalised with a stinging drive from outside the penalty area. The former Lyon player was not recruited for his goalscoring prowess, but with a shrug, a delighted Mauchio Pochetino had no complaints at this newfound string to the Frenchman’s bow.

What the Argentinian was more guarded about was the pivotal moment that had preceded that goal – the introduction of Christan Eriksen ten minutes earlier. Leaving the Dane out of the starting lineup would ordinarily raise eyebrows, but with a move to the continent looming large, perhaps it was understandable.

And post-match Pochetino was keen to play down the impact of the player’s introduction as he seeks to ween his team off a reliance on the Dane’s quality, with no obvious replacement in the pipeline. He conceded that the player added a freshness, but was his introduction decisive? No. Time will tell as Spurs face tougher tests without him in th weeks to come, starting next week at Manchester City.

After the Ndombele strike, the writing was on the wall for the Villa. The composure and organisation that had underpinned their performance beforehand rapidly faded and the gulf in class between the Championship and the Premier League was laid bare.

Lax play by Jack Grealish on the edge of the box was punished by Spurs - who seized possession and after a ricochet in the box. The ball fell to Harry Kane – who put paid to the myth that he does not score in August with a decisive finish in the 87th minute.

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